There’s no shortage of excuses that people give for not wearing a face mask while exercising during the coronavirus pandemic: Face masks are cumbersome, they’re uncomfortable, and they make it hard to breathe.
Many people have even subscribed to the myth that masks actually deplete oxygen levels while working out. But Tom Lawton, an ICU doctor from the United Kingdom, recently disproved that theory by testing it out himself—all while nearly completing a marathon.
“I work in intensive care, I know physiology so I knew that this wasn’t true,” he told CTV News.
His goal: to run a 35K (about 21.74 miles) around his hometown of Bradford, U.K., while wearing a face mask and tracking his oxygen levels.
“I thought: How can I demonstrate it? How can I reassure people who would like to do their bit and wear a mask but are scared?” Lawton told CTV News.
— CTV News (@CTVNews) August 2, 2020
Lawton monitored his oxygen levels during his entire run using a pulse oximeter to track actual data of how the mask impacted his breathing. He checked his oxygen levels every half hour during his run, and noted that any reading above a reading 95 percent was considered “normal.”
“The [reading was] 98 to 99 all the time, completely normal oxygen levels all the way,” he says. Translation: He had no breathing problems during his entire run.
“It’s certainly unpleasant, and I feel for the people who don’t like wearing them, but this is one of the things that’s going to help us,” he said.
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Looking for a super-breathable face mask? Here are some of the best face masks for running and outdoor workouts.
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